As soon as the king was seated, the knights-companions put on their caps, and retired to the table prepared for them on the right side of the hall, where they seated themselves according to their degree -- the Duke of Richmond occupying the first place, the Duke of Suffolk the second, and the Duke of Norfolk the third. On the opposite side of the hall was a long beaufet covered with flasks of wine, meats, and dishes, for the service of the knights' table. Before this stood the attendants, near whom were drawn up two lines of pensioners bearing the second course on great gilt dishes, and headed by the sewer. In front of the sewer were the treasurer and comptroller of the household, each bearing a white wand; next them stood the officers-of-arms in two lines, headed by the Garter. The bottom of the hall was thronged with yeomen of the guard, halberdiers, and henchmen. In a gallery at the lower end were stationed a band of minstrels, and near them sat the Lady Anne and her dames to view the proceedings.
The appearance of the hall during the banquet was magnificent, the upper part being hung with arras representing the legend of Saint George, placed there by Henry the Sixth, and the walls behind the knights-companions adorned with other tapestries and rich stuffs. The tables groaned with the weight of dishes, some of which may be enumerated for the benefit of modern gastronomers. There were Georges on horseback, chickens in brewis, cygnets, capons of high grease, carpes of venison, herons, calvered salmon, custards planted with garters, tarts closed with arms, godwits, peafowl, halibut engrailed, porpoise in armour, pickled mullets, perch in foyle, venison pasties, hypocras jelly, and mainemy royal.
Before the second course was served, the Garter, followed by Clarenceux and Norroy, together with the heralds and pursuivants, advanced towards the sovereign's canopy, and cried thrice in a loud voice, "Largesse!"
Upon this, all the knights-companions arose and took off their caps. The Garter then proceeded to proclaim the king's titles in Latin and French, and lastly in English, as follows: -- " Of the most high, most excellent, and most mighty monarch, Henry the Eighth, by the grace of God King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and Sovereign of the most noble Order of the Garter."
This proclamation made, the treasurer of the household put ten golden marks into the Garter's cap, who making a reverence to the sovereign, retired from the hall with his followers.
"Come, my lord legate," said Henry, when this ceremony was at an end, "we will drink to my future queen. What ho! wine!" he added to the Earl of Surrey, who officiated as cup-bearer.
"Your highness is not yet divorced from your present consort," replied Campeggio. "If it please you, I should prefer drinking the health of Catherine of Arragon."
"Well, as your eminence pleases," replied the king, taking the goblet from the hand of Surrey; "I shall not constrain you.
And looking towards the gallery, he fixed his eyes on the Lady Anne and drained the cup to the last drop.
"Would it were poison," muttered Sir Thomas Wyat, who stood behind the Earl of Surrey, and witnessed what was passing.
"Give not thy treasonable thoughts vent, gossip," said Will Sommers, who formed one of the group near the royal table, "or it may chance that some one less friendly disposed towards thee than myself may overhear them. I tell thee, the Lady Anne is lost to thee for ever. Think'st thou aught of womankind would hesitate between a simple knight and a king? My lord duke," he added sharply to Richmond, who was looking round at him) "you would rather be in yonder gallery than here."
"Why so, knave?" asked the duke.
"Because the Fair Geraldine is there," replied the jester. "And yet your grace is not the person she would most desire to have with her."
"Whom would she prefer? " inquired the duke angrily.
The jester nodded at Surrey, and laughed maliciously.
"You heard the health given by the king just now, my lord," observed the Duke of Suffolk to his neighbour the Duke of Norfolk; "it was a shrewd hint to the lord legate which way his judgment should decline. Your niece will assuredly be Queen of England."
"I did not note what was said, my lord," replied Norfolk; "I pray you repeat it to me."
Suffolk complied, and they continued in close debate until the termination of the banquet, when the king, having saluted the company, returned to the presence-chamber.